Major Labour donor John Mills dismisses Mail story as “pure mischief making”

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The Mail on Sunday run with attacks on Ed Miliband today, including quotes from major Labour backer John Mills where he appears sceptical of a Mansion Tax and seems to side with Alan Milburn’s comments on the NHS this week.

Mills, who has donated £1.5million to the Labour Party, has dismissed the story as “pure mischief making” and said they had used “highly selective and misleading quotes” for the story.

The business leader admits he would prefer the widening of council tax bands to the Mansion Tax as a way of raising money from expensive homes (echoing remarks from Peter Mandelson), and says that he shares “considerable sympathy with both Alan Milburn and Andy Burnham” on reforming the NHS.

You can read his full statement here:

“This is pure mischief making.

I was rung by a reporter from the Daily Mail and I did my damndest to be as supportive as possible and to avoid saying anything which could be damaging for Labour. I have always supported heavier taxes on high value properties, and I told the reporter this, although it is true that I have gone on record to say that I think that widening the council tax bands is a better way of doing it than having a mansion tax. I also have said that there are problems about hypothecating something like a mansion tax for the NHS rather than using money raised locally for local purposes – particularly building more housing. As regards the NHS, my view is one of considerable sympathy with both Alan Milburn and Andy Burnham. Clearly the NHS both needs more money and to consider every reasonable way of improving efficiency. This is what I told the Mail reporter.

I am well aware of the vulnerableness of my position to being used to provide highly selective and misleading quotes like the one in the Mail on Sunday this morning but unfortunately there is a limit to the extent to which this sort of thing can be avoided, however hard I try.”

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